Celebrating 25 years of food addiction treatment and recovery!

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Mondays and Other Weight-Loss Myths!

Three Mondays have passed in the first month of this new year. For many food addicts, this is the time that weight loss plans begin to fall apart. The cravings become even more overwhelming after several failed attempts at dieting.

The idea that a food addict can simply begin and follow a diet on Monday or any other day without addressing the physiological addiction to food is a myth. It’s just not possible. Food addiction doesn’t work that way. Simply cutting back on calories will not help a food addict to recover.

Many food addicts come to us believing that eating “diet” foods low in fat will help them to lose weight when it’s exactly the opposite. Most low-fat foods contain even more sugar than normal fat ones, which means that for food addicts these so-called “diet” foods are even more addictive.

The more “diet” foods that a food addict eats, the more food they crave. These “diet” foods cause the exact opposite effect in food addicts and result in even stronger physical cravings than some normal fat foods. The only way to eliminate physical cravings for certain foods is to stop eating them.

This brings me to another weight-loss myth:  abstinent food doesn’t taste good. That’s absolutely not true. It is necessary for a food addict to enjoy their food in order to maintain long-term recovery. That doesn’t mean every meal will be perfect but, overall, finding and preparing food that tastes good is an important part of food addiction recovery.

If you’re struggling and you’ve bought into these myths, we’re here to help.

 

 

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Powerless or Helpless?

I can’t take it anymore.   

I don’t want to live like this.   

I give up.  

We hear these words all the time from food addicts. Yet, many who say them go right back to bingeing. Others spend time thinking about the idea that they are powerless over their addiction then decide since that’s true, they may as well continue bingeing.

While food addicts are powerless over their addiction, they are not helpless. There’s an important difference between the two. Being helpless means being weak, dependent, and having no strength. Powerlessness in recovery, on the other hand, means that no matter how hard a food addict tries, no amount of self-control will change the fact that eating certain food substances cause a biological reaction in their bodies, which creates physical cravings for certain foods.

A helpless person has no hope while a powerless person can take steps towards recovery and find more hope than that person ever imagined. In the same way that someone with a cold experiences certain physical symptoms that they have no control over without the proper treatment, a food addict cannot control the physiological reaction that takes place once addictive substances are eaten.

In both cases, there are things that can be done to make living with each condition more manageable. For the cold, there are medical solutions that can lessen congestion and fever. For food addiction, there are professional and Twelve-Step programs to help stop bingeing. Both are a matter of biology that cannot be changed without help.

Recovery from food addiction begins with understanding that it is possible to have a different and better life once you know how to manage the physical symptoms.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Put Your Money Where Your Recovery Is!

Food addiction recovery takes commitment. So does bingeing. This commitment can be in the form of emotional, physical, spiritual or financial resources. It’s estimated that a food addict spends about $60 per binge. While some food addicts binge three or four times a week, most of the food addicts who come to us are bingeing three or four times a day. At three binges per day, that’s a cost of $180 for one day, $1,260 per week, $5,400 per month.

Even at one binge per day, the monthly total is $1,800. This is the reality of food addiction. Though most food addicts don’t go into a grocery store and spend $450 a week on food at one time, many make several trips to fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, cafeterias, or coffee shops and spend significant amounts of money there.

By spreading out their spending at various stores, food addicts are better able to deny the actual amount of money they spend each month on food. This allows them to continue spending large amounts of money and eating a high volume of food without realizing the total cost of literally feeding their addiction.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Spending money on food addiction recovery is a much better “deal” than purchasing food to binge on. Whether it’s putting a few dollars in the basket at a Twelve-Step meeting, buying a book to help with recovery, spending money on healthy foods, or registering for a food addiction program, the benefits are longer-lasting and priceless.

Money spent on a binge goes up in flames quickly. A binge is over in a matter of minutes while food addiction recovery can last a lifetime. More than that, food addiction recovery can create a life that is beyond a bingeing food addict’s wildest dreams.

The choice on whether or not to put your money where your recovery is belongs to you.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ A New Start Anytime

The first of the year. The beginning of the month. A Monday. The day after a holiday. All of these were markers that I used to begin a weight loss program. By the next day or two, I usually “cheated” on my diet which gave me an excuse to binge even more than before until the next “Diet Day” came around.

Each attempt left me feeling more and more hopeless and humiliated. With each binge, I lost a little piece of my self-respect and I hated myself with a growing fierceness that frightened even me sometimes. I felt trapped in a body that weighed over 300 pounds and helpless to change things.

Until…..

One day, my life changed. It was the day that I attended an Acorn Intensive. What I didn’t realize until then was that I was a food addict.This meant that my body had become dependent on ingesting certain foods in order for it to function “normally.” That made it next to impossible for me to ever control what and how much I put in my mouth.

This was new information, and it all made sense. Better yet, it worked! It worked in ways I never thought possible. Yes, I cut my weight in half by releasing over 140 pounds and keeping it off (one day at a time). However, the things that have been more life-changing, surprisingly, are the internal changes — the changes in how I show up in the world, the changes in my thoughts, feelings, and actions throughout the day.

I have a lot more joy and gratitude every day. Most days I get up and want to participate in the world. This is not what I was used to. Before I was in recovery from food addiction, I just wanted to stay in bed, watch TV, eat food, and shut out the rest of the world. I was miserable, sad, angry, and obese.

Today, I can honestly say I am happy, joyous, grateful, and physically healthy. I truly never believed this could ever happen to me; as I said, I was resigned to being fat and miserable the rest of my life. But that isn’t the case today. I found a solution, and now I work with people every day to help lift them out of the trenches of food obsession and addiction.

If you are a food addict, don’t wait until another new year, another first of the month, another Monday or another day after a holiday.  You can make a new start anytime and, if you need it, we can help.

Here’s wishing you an abstinent new year!

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ The Costs Of “Free” Food!

At this time of the year, many people have the chance to eat “free” food. Parties, work-related events, school-sponsored programs or even a trip to a bank that puts out dishes of candy, can all be opportunities to eat food without paying for it.

For food addicts, however, it’s important to remember that there is no such thing as “free” food. Even if there is no monetary price associated with the food, the costs of eating it are far too high.

In order to maintain long-term recovery, most food addicts need to follow a non-addictive food plan with specific amounts and types of foods clearly outlined. Deviating from this plan even a little most times results in full-blown relapse, which can turn into years of bingeing and massive amounts of weight gain.

It’s important to point out that some food addicts who eat this “free” food are never able to get back into recovery. Think about all of the diseases associated with obesity – diabetes, strokes, heart disease, high blood pressure, to name a few – and you have a pretty good idea of the physical costs of “free” food.

Some of the emotional costs of eating “free” food and relapsing are depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety. The financial costs of “free” food are also high when thinking about the price of binge foods, clothes that fit, or any of the other things that come with weight gain.

It’s important to remember the costs of “free” food before you take that first bite.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Feelings are.

For many food addicts, the month of December can be quite a challenge.  Not only is it filled with several holidays but it also marks the end of another year.  For those still deep in their addiction, this can be a painful reminder of promises made and broken about losing weight or developing healthy eating habits.

For those in recovery, the holidays themselves may bring up feelings of loneliness or sadness.  Some may mourn the loss of their “best friend” food while others the loss of family members or friends who don’t quite understand the idea of not being able to eat just one of something.

For others, it may be a time of great sorrow as past holidays are remembered even idealized then compared to today.

Yet, for many it can be a time of great joy and gratitude for a life of recovery from food addiction.  It can be a time to develop non-food-related celebrations and self-care practices that nurture the healthy recovering person they’ve turned into.

Whatever it is that you’re feeling this month, know that feelings are PERIOD.  Feelings are is a full sentence, meaning that we don’t need to put judgments on our feelings but simply accept them as being true for us at this time and in this space.

Feelings can change from one second to the next, from one hour to the next and from one day to the next. And while we sometimes might not like what we’re feeling, it’s important to remember that feelings only have as much power as we give to them.

Quite acceptance of what we’re feeling results in serenity and the knowledge that all feelings pass while trying to force ourselves to change our feelings brings frustration and even anger.  Take a few minutes to consider which way works better for you to manage your feelings – accepting that feelings are or fighting to change them.  The choice is yours.